New film To Light A Candle examines the persecution of Baha’is in Iran.
For millions of people around the world, the term Baha’i will have little or no meaning. They are completely unaware of this religious group or the persecution that they face living in Iran. However, that is about to change with the release of a new film called To Light A Candle. This brave new film explores a topic that is considered taboo at best within the nation, and seeks to relay some of the difficulties faced by the Baha’i every day.
Who Are The Baha’i?
The Baha’i faith is a religious minority within the nation of Iran, who believe in a messenger that has come after Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. While they are still a monotheistic religion and believe in a single God that is fundamentally the same as the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim God, their relatively young religion has come under fire.
Iran And The Baha’i
Iran has persecuted adherents of this religion since the 1979 Revolution that consolidated religious power in the nation. In the early stages of their assault on the Baha’i, the Iranian government closed their schools and even held public executions to discourage the religion from spreading. Now, with no official schools and more of their faithful disappearing every day, the Baha’i are telling their story in To Light A Candle.
Exploring The Darkness
The film, conceived by Maziar Bahari, takes a close look at the lives of five former prisoners from Iran, who gives poignant interviews about what life was like for them and their families living under the constant threat from the country. It also explores a very troubling part of the discrimination against the Baha’i: the inability to pursue higher education. Since the Baha’i are not allowed to seek education at the universities in Iran, they made their own education system: The Baha’i Institute for Higher Education. This network of schools that are housed in private residences serves as a way for the students to become educated outside of the Iranian schools, but has come under fire in recent years, including arrests of some administrators.
Sending Out A Message
While the persecution against the Baha’i is still widespread in the country, To Light A Candle is an important look at the inner workings of Iran and how they treat religious minorities. Mostly, though, this film is looking to spread a message of understanding to the rest of the world, one that has not been filtered through propaganda machines in Iran. To many Baha’i, having the world know and understand their plight is one of the most important things that can come of this film.